WINGSPREAD Ezine for December, 2020

“Spreading your wings in a perplexing world”

December, 2020          James Hurd    

Please forward, and share this E-zine with anyone. Thank you.


  • New story: “A Strange Day at the Office”
  • Puzzler of the month: Convert or Freeze
  • How to purchase Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying
  • Writer’s Corner, with a NEW CONTEST!
  • Glorious insults from the past
  • Wingspread Ezine subscription information


 New story: A Strange Day at the Office

One day Mr. Merton called in sick and put Duane in charge. That would be the day the inmates took over the asylum.

Duane opened his desk drawer and pulled out the bottle. “Myra, get some plastic cups in that drawer over there. Could you pour?” Sean had never tasted alcohol and Torrey Bible Institute prohibited students from drinking, but the pressure of the social occasion pushed him to take a sip. He coughed as the strong liquid slid down his throat. Duane laughed, sitting relaxed with his feet up on the desk, cigarette hanging from his lower lip. Marion came over and sat on his lap. Duane pretended to ignore her but Sean could see he loved it. Sean tried concentrating on his filing, but in vain. The atmosphere turned relaxed, a day of freedom from Mr. Merton. . . .        
To read more, click here:

(*Please leave a comment on the website. Thanks.)

Puzzler of the month: Convert or Freeze

Roger Meyer sent this puzzler in. (Taken from the radio show, “Car Talk.)

A group of explorers was trapped in Alaska for the winter season. Stuck in the ice and snow, they only had one means of escaping to civilization before spring: an old World War Two airplane with skis, which they could use in the event of an emergency.

The plane had a placard on the instrument panel that said, “Do not attempt to start the engine in temperatures below minus forty degrees Fahrenheit.”

As luck would have it, this being an international kind of team, all of their instruments were in Centigrade. Unfortunately, nobody could remember the formula for converting Centigrade to Fahrenheit.

Skip, who had been carefully looking over the engine for the last couple of days, emerged from the inky shadows of the dimly-lit Quonset hut and said, “I don’t need no stinkin’ formulas. But I know you can start the engine. It will be all right.”

Sure enough, they started the engine up, and it was fine.

The question is, how did Skip know they could safely start the engine?

Last month’s Puzzler: Recall that you walk up to a closed door with three light switches on the wall beside it. The switches control three light bulbs in a room on the other side of the door. Once you open the door, you may never touch the switches again. How can you definitively tell which switch is connected to each of the light bulbs?

Answer: We got a winner on this puzzler—Sam!
Here’s the correct answer:

Turn all switches off. Then turn on the first two switches. Leave them on for five minutes. Once five minutes have passed, turn off the second switch, leaving the first switch on. Now go through the door. The light that is still on is connected to the first switch. The light that is still warm is connected to the second switch. The bulb that is cold is connected to the third switch which was never turned on.

Buy James Hurd’s Wingspread: A Memoir of Faith and Flying.  How childhood (Fundamentalist) faith led to mission bush-piloting in South America—and Barbara. Buy it here:  (or order it at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.) 

See pics here related to Wingspread: Of Faith and Flying:

Follow “james hurd” on Facebook, or “@hurdjp” on Twitter

Writers’ Corner

CONTEST FOR YOU! The most important sentence in a story? The first one! Send me one sentence, only one sentence, that you consider a great beginning sentence for a story—one of your own crafting, or, if someone else’s, list their name with it. For example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities). I will choose the sentence I like best, and send the winner a free copy of my Wingspread memoirs!

Writing tip of the month: Add conflict to your dialogue! Dialogue is boring if the two people talking are of the same mind.

Word of the Month:  PARTICULARITY. This is Sol Stein’s term for drilling down to detail in your descriptions. Instead of “a brown coat,” try “a light brown stadium jacket with a dark stain on the left pocket.” Instead of “dirty windows” try “bleak, gray windows with white, pigeon-limed sills.”

 Book of the month: Sol Stein, Stein on Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies. 1995, St. Martin’s Griffin: New York. The best book on writing I’ve ever read, flat out.

Watch for my upcoming novel: East Into Unbelief (provisional title)

Sean lost his father, his best girlfriend, his life dream, and was losing his faith. Why was he at Torrey Bible Institute? How could he restructure his life as an atheist? He could not see it, but grace was coming. . . .

Glorious insults from the past

In an exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor, she said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison,” and he replied, “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”
– Clarence Darrow

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
– William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”
– Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas

“He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know.” – Abraham Lincoln

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.” – Oscar Wilde

Subscribe free to this Ezine   Click here  to subscribe to this WINGSPREAD ezine, sent direct to your email inbox, every month. You will receive a free article for subscribing. Please share this URL with interested friends, “like” it on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, etc.

If you wish to unsubscribe from this Wingspread Ezine, send an email to and put in the subject line: “unsubscribe.” (I won’t feel bad, promise!) Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s